Heeding to the disgust and general unease of the people, the chambers of commerce and the business sector, late Friday the government withdrew its plans for a second vehicular restrictions of San José.
The announcement was made last night by the ministro de la Presidencia, Carlos Ricardo Benavides.
Benavides said that, starting Thursday, September 19, all public sector employees will work Monday to Friday between 7am and 3pm. The change in work hours will apply until November 17, when the Circunvalación between Hatillo 8 and Pavas, is expected to fully re-open. Not affected by the change are workers at hospitals, clinics and police, who will continue to work their normal hours.
The words by Benavides Friday night completely contradict the words earlier in the day Friday by Transport Minister Pedro Castro, who said the double restrictions stand and that the government was working on an executive order (decree) that would in effect on Monday. On Friday, Castro maintained firm on a second vehicular restriction that would apply during morning and afternoon rush hours.
In addition to backing off on the restriction plans, Benavides assured that the “rutas intersectoriales” will be working within two weeks, with the first leg serving the areas of Hatillo and Guadalupe, Guadalupe – La Uruca and Moravia – Desamparados.
The “intersectoriales” or “interlinea” as it was dubbed a few years ago, is a public transport bus service that criscrosses areas. It has been one of the government’s failed initiatives.
Several years ago the plan was hatched, the bus stops marked off and the signs posted. But the buses never rolled. Problems with bids, government bungling and other things kept the plan that would move people, for example, from Santa Ana and Escazú to Pavas and La Uruca on one bus line instead of the present having all to go to and from downtown San José.
Currently, to go from say Heredia to Escazú it means taking one bus to downtown San José or La Sabana and then another bus to Escazú, with a walk in between and waiting time. With the “interlinea’, one bus would go from Heredia through Pavas and to Escazú an return.
Also part of the governments plane is the commuter train also run one extra hour in the mornings (up to 10am) and afternoons (from 3pm) .
Benavides also said that 120 traffic officials and an equal number of officers of the Fuerza Publica (police) would regulate traffic flow in various area of San José between 6am and 9m and 4pm an 7pm, Mondays to Fridays. Police units will have air support to detect points of major congestion and divert traffic.
The government will also promote “teleworking” in public institutions.
Benavides, in his statement to the press, said that “public institutions” will promote working 10 hours a day over four days – workers accumulating their 40 hours, and having one extra day off which can be either a Fridays or a Mondays.
On Friday business leaders and the Defensoría de los Habitantes (Ombudsman) strong criticized the double vehicular restriction measures, citin the increased in travel time due to congestion, more fuel consumption and ovetime pay to drivers will lead to higher production costs.
The business sector also reminded the government that the country is showing a fall in competitiveness